At the time of its opening in 1965, a burger at Joe Allen cost 75 cents. The menu, a chalkboard along the brick wall was updated daily and checkered cloths lined the tables. Joe, the restaurant’s namesake owner, felt at home among the performers of the theater district and the Italian and Irish residents of Hell’s Kitchen. Seeing the then residential and barren neighborhood as a place where he could lay down roots, Joe Allen originally served burgers and chili. His vision was a low key environment with stellar cuisine. This instinct proved to be right and the restaurant quickly developed a cult following among the denizens of the theater district and became a star-studded hangout.
The dim light gives the place a cool, low-key vibe that has become a favorite among Broadway’s best. Whether you’re having a drink at the bar or are seated in a secluded table in the back, the staff will make you feel like one of the stars. If you’re lucky, you might even see a celebrity hiding out in the back for an after hours nightcap!
In the years that have followed Joe Allen has made it a point to stick by its authentic roots in keeping the original brick walls and making all of their pasta in-house. Though there are a number of mainstay items, the rest of the menu rotates daily. In a fast-paced city that’s constantly on the go, Joe Allen brings a sense of comfort. They’re the genuine boy or girl next door that you know will always have your back.
In 1983, 18 years after starting Joe Allen, the restauranteur opened Orso next door. Serving gourmet Italian fare, Orso was one of the first Italian restaurants to offer traditional Tuscan cuisine. Coming in an era that thought of gourmet Italian food as eggplant parmesan and pasta with loads of cheese and tomato sauce, critics instantly fell in love with Oros’s elegant and sophisticated palate that featured classic and simple Italian spices and herbs.
Both Orso and Joe Allen sit on 46th Street, otherwise known as Restaurant Row. The street is lined with restaurants that have served patrons of Manhattan’s Theater District for decades.
What is Restaurant Row?
A trip to a Broadway show is not complete without having dinner in Restaurant Row! Restaurant Row is the nickname for 46th Street between eighth and ninth avenues in Manhattan. Officially designated “Restaurant Row” by the City of New York in 1973, this street is lined with some of the most famous and delicious restaurants in the city. Not only home to Joe Allen and Orso, but also to other theater district haunts such as The Ritz and Don’t Tell Mama.
After dinner, take a walk past Restaurant Row to discover some of the most famous theaters on Broadway. The Palace Theater, The Gershwin Theater, and The Shubert Theater among them.